How to develop postpartum anxiety

Per a suggestion from my family doctor I have made an appointment with a counselor to discuss the possibility of me having postpartum anxiety.
Good times.
I’ve heard people in my life that are close to me mention that they suspect I may be struggling with ppa so I took the final recommendation from my doctor as a hard sign that maybe I should look into the possibility that there might be some truth to it.
SO in preparation for my initial visit I have been thinking about how to describe my feelings to my counselor.

I think it’s kind of like a tree.  There are several branches that all come together to one structure.

One branch comes from the fact that it took me 2 years to even get pregnant.  I always thought of myself as a mother and being pregnant, having children & raising a family but I never imagined it would take me so long to make that happen once my wife & I decided we were ready to start our family.  There was SO much build up to his arrival – even before I was pregnant – that I am fully focused on him & that fact that he is FINALLY HERE!

Another branch grew when I found out I had gestational diabetes.  I got my diagnosis it was a Friday.  They told me the results of my 3 hour test showed me positive for gestational diabetes.  I never saw this coming.  I thought only people who were over-weight had to worry about diabetes (another lie of our society in having us believe that only obese people have health issues – but that’s another topic I’ll go into another day) and this completely rocked me.  It was a Friday afternoon.  No offices open until Monday.  I had all weekend to worry & wonder about how the foods I would be eating over the next 72 hours would be hurting & poisoning my baby.  I didn’t know ANYTHING about carbs, blood sugar, proteins!  NOTHING!  I never knew that even FRUITS had carbs!  I felt like nothing was safe to eat!  I was frozen.  I tried talking to the people around me & they all said “don’t worry” & “everything is going to be ok” or “it’s really not a big deal”.  It all sounded like they were saying “this doesn’t matter” “you are worrying for no reason” “we don’t care”.   I literally felt like I was the only one in the whole world that was actually worried about my baby.  I felt that everyone else was just blowing this off as a non-issue!  That evening I laid down in bed, crying, put my hands on my belly & made a promise to my baby ‘I give you my deepest promise that I will always take care of you, no matter WHAT!  I love you & I will do whatever it takes to protect you for as long as I’m alive”.
Looking back – I realize what I really needed to hear in that moment was someone to say “WOW!  This is very scary but let’s sit down & see if we can find some good recipes online to get you thru the weekend until you can meet with the doctor.”  I needed someone to AGREE WITH ME that the news was frightening & to tell me that it was ok for me to be worried about this baby’s health!  Not to just brush it off & say “everything will be fine”.  I didn’t know how to express that need at the time – I actually only came to this realization last night – my son is 16 months old – so there’s some hindsight for you – right?

The next branch came on my son’s 3rd day of life.  “There are 2 holes in your son’s heart”.  Everything the cardiologist said after that was a blur.  I could hardly hear his words over the sound of my own sobbing.  I held onto my baby so tight I don’t even think wild horses could have torn us apart.  All I kept thinking to myself over & over was “I wanted this baby so long and so badly & I couldn’t even make him a good heart”.  The heart is the first thing that’s made, you know?  The very first thing I made for my baby was incomplete, flawed.  This was his first impression of me.  The first thing I ever made him & the result was – faulty.  I’d failed him immediately out of the gate.  How could I ever make this right?  How could he ever trust me now?  Nobody agreed with me that this was terrifying but instead just kept telling me “everything will be ok”.

My fourth branch of my ppa came when our son was about a month old.  I got a text “OMG! (one of our high school classmate)’s SON DIED!  HE WAS ONLY 5 MONTHS OLD!  SIDS?!”  Like any mom (new or veteran) I squeezed my son a little tighter that night & found a little more patience than usual when he woke up crying in the middle of the night.  Fast forward to 2 weeks before my return to work.  The sitter we’d lined up said she needed to talk with us.  The baby died at her house.  She said it was SIDS.  We talked about it & we felt that we still trusted her to watch our son.  After all, there’s no way anyone can prevent SIDS!  The day before I returned to work my former classmate reached out to me.  Her son suffocated from an unsafe sleep environment.  My heart stopped.  How could this be?  We were so careful in choosing the person who would care for our baby!  This sitter neglectfully put a baby at risk & he died because of her choices & then she lied to us about what happened!  How could I trust anyone with him now?!

We found another daycare & it has cameras that I can log into & see him anytime I want during the day.  This is a nice feature & it usually comforts me to see that he is doing ok & having fun.  But when I look in & see him crying or upset it is beyond distressing to me seeing him have to wait minutes at a time for someone to get over to him to meet his needs.  I feel sick just watching him there crying, needing, begging for comfort.  Sometimes if I see that he’s been sleeping in his crib for an unusually long amount of time I have called the daycare to ask that a teacher check on him to make sure he is breathing.

This is my tree:
I worry about him stopping breathing when he’s asleep.  I worry about him choking on food when he’s eating.  I worry about him hurting himself while he’s playing.  Toys break, kids put things in their mouth, they choke!  They take bites of food that are too big.  They choke.  They die.  They fall down & hit their head on corners of tables, pull over furniture – they die.  They play with blankets, get wrapped up & die.  Babies die.  Toddlers die.  Children play in water & drown in under a minute.  They die.  Car seats are installed incorrectly.  Seat belts are fastened incorrectly. Cars crash.  Kids die. Why am I the only one that knows this?!  Why am I the only person who knows that children get hurt and die?!
I’ve watched him die 1000 times in 1000 different ways in my mind & the pain in my chest is so bad that it hurts to even breathe.
It is MY job to watch FOR him until he learns to watch – speak FOR him until he learn to talk – see FOR him until he learn to look!

What does it feel like to have PPA?

It feels like I’m watching acid rain pour from the sky & I suggest we go get umbrellas while everyone looks at me like I’m insane.

seeds of doubt

Women have no doubts of their abilities to GET pregnant
but are told often that once they do get pregnant they cannot trust their bodies to birth their babies OR to provide the baby with enough milk

I have a problem with this message.

We push products that prevent pregnancy – it is actually not uncommon for women to experience trouble getting or keeping a pregnancy.  Did you know on any given month a woman only has a 25% chance of conception.  You know when we’re told this?  When we are IN the trenches of trying to conceive and having NO IDEA what’s wrong with us – feeling that we must be ‘broken’ because our bodies are not working ‘properly’ and left to wonder why nobody told us it could be a challenge at all.

CONGRATS YOU’RE EXPECTING!  GREAT JOB!

“Guess what?  You might be able to grow that baby on your own but since you won’t be able to birth or feed your baby, the way your body was intended to do, here are 10000 products & services that you’ve come to know by name long before you even thought of having a child – they are meant to do the work of birthing & feeding for you because you will never succeed at those things.  Trust us, we’re the professionals.”

How did we get here??!!

Women don’t wake up in the morning & say to themselves “I’m not sure my liver is going to work very well.” but we are ok with women doubting that their cervix can open, that their uterus will contract, that their bodies CAN withstand the intensity and that their breasts will make enough milk to feed their children – often times BEFORE any of these events have even been given the chance to occur!

AND if their liver doesn’t work – they’re not told to just totally bypass that process because it’s not worth the trouble!  They are given options to get the very best production possible from that organ!

If you go to your dr because you’re having a problem breastfeeding – you’re given formula.  There is no exam, no questions, no conversation about how to make that organ work – you are given the message that it’s not worth the trouble.

If your body is taking “too long” bringing your baby earthside it is decided that you just can’t do it & to bypass the whole process & they just take you back for operation.

We need to DEMAND more, demand better – have the hard conversations with the drs & tell them to listen to you!  If they won’t – seek out the help you need until you find the help you deserve!  OUR BODIES ARE NOT BROKEN!  We simply need better care for ourselves & for our babies!

More than physical

In honor of Mother’s Day my mom posted a picture of her & my grandmother as her profile picture on Facebook.  I thought “that’s cute!” & then I immediately saw that my grandmother had commented ‘why did you post this ugly picture of me for everyone to see?’

and it hit me

For my entire life I have listened to the women in my family put themselves & others down, speak negatively about their looks, image & shape.  They have always told me how pretty I am & to be confident in myself but I have never heard them speak about themselves in this way.

Make no mistake about it – your children/grandchildren hear everything you say.

Until I became a mother & had confidence that my body is FUNCTIONAL I never had a positive body image.  Ever.  I was too skinny, too plain, too pale, my boobs were too small, my skin was too oily/dry, my hair was too stringy, my teeth are too yellow, my eyebrows are too bushy, my arms too hairy.  Never enough.

These things were never said TO me but I decided they must all be true because I grew up in a family that blurted out judgments on everyone’s body & looks all. the. time.
People on tv, people on the street, friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, ex’s, teenagers, kids – nobody was safe.
“she sure got big didn’t she?!” “her hair looks awful” “doesn’t look like he’s missed many meals” “what is she wearing?!” “I look so ugly” “I can’t wear that” “don’t take a picture of me” “I hate my smile” “I’m fat”
You name it – I’ve heard it being said about someone and yet somehow I was supposed to believe that I was beautiful??  I couldn’t even understand what the standard of beauty WAS so how could I have ever expected that I could live up to it??  I spent the first 3 decades of my life doubting that I could be something beautiful but always chasing it like a shadow.

I have to change this pattern.

When I was pregnant I was actually terrified of having a little girl because I was so worried that I will somehow make her feel that she can’t ever live up to some made up standard of beauty in the same way that I had felt for so long.  Then I realized – I have that responsibility no matter if I have a boy OR a girl!  I want my son to know that he IS a beautiful person & that he should be proud of his body AND his mind!  Not only that, but he should celebrate the bodies & minds of those around him & remind them that they are to be celebrated.  He should not look at a woman & wonder how much she weighs or how many people she has slept with but rather what kind of impact is she having on the world around her or what she’s passionate about.

That begins with me.  What do I say about those around me?  What is he hearing me say about others?  Old habits die hard BUT this is a responsibility I take VERY seriously & I know that patterns to not change on their own.

I am heartbroken that my mother & grandmother might never know the kind of inner confidence that would drive them to lift others up rather than try to bring others down.  I hope that maybe if they see a change in me that it might inspire them to feel better about themselves.

I can’t change the world – but I can have an impact – I just have to choose if it will be one of positive change or to continue on the path that’s been set out before me.

Owning it

You know what I haven’t done since becoming a parent?  Given myself the high-five I actually deserve!
I down-play things I consider to be BIG wins in my life because I’m worried I might offend someone who had different experiences than I did!  In this world of ‘everything offends us’ I have actually bitten my tongue on subjects that actually excite me very much because I’m worried a friend (or even a STRANGER) would be upset by me sharing my happiness!
And guess what?!  I’ll never actually even ‘share’ this blog post on any of my social media accounts because I will never have the courage to!  BUT I’m going to throw myself a little celebration right here & now – you’re totally invited!

Things I am super proud of:

I FOUND THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!
I dated SO many ‘duds’ over the years – always looking & hoping that someday I would find ‘the one’ & guess what?!  I DID!  I am married to the most beautiful, kind, caring, loving, funny, annoyingly-neat-freak woman on the planet!  I hit the all-inclusive jackpot when she agreed to spend the rest of her years with ME!  I’m just hoping I don’t take any years off of her life by leaving messes all over the house while she follows behind me cleaning them up HAHA!

I HAVE A CAREER I WORKED HARD FOR!
I started off in retail when I was 15 years old & I worked my way up to being a manager & stayed in that position for about 10 years.  Once I decided I couldn’t continue in that career anymore I made a HUGE change (& decrease in pay) to get into banking.  I have been successful & although my dream would be to not have to work – I am lucky to have a steady job that I don’t TOTALLY hate 🙂

I BOUGHT A HOUSE!
Do you know how rare it is THESE DAYS for a young person (27 at the time) to be able to BUY a house on their own?!  Now, truth be told – I could NEVER afford the mortgage PLUS all the expenses that go along with owning a home on my own – so my wife’s income sure does help out to keep the heat on & the water running lol!  BUT as far as the lenders were concerned I did it on my own!  I didn’t have to have anyone else help me or have my dad’s name included!  I DID IT!  I feel pretty proud!  And it gives me a lot of security in my future knowing that I will have it all paid off well before I’m ready to retire!

I GOT PREGNANT!
That’s right!  When we decided we were ready to start our family we assumed all we had to do was pick our donor & make a quick visit to the dr & we’d be well on our way in no time!  WRONG!  2 years, 12 incems, 1 surgery (to clear out endometriosis), countless prescriptions, needles, appointments, tests, ultrasounds, tears, prayers, sleepless nights later we FINALLY GOT OUR BFP (big fat positive) HPT (home pregnancy test)!!!

I HAD A WONDERFUL PREGNANCY!
When you get pregnant you never know what kind of surprises you’ll get!  Morning sickness, heartburn, swelling, hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, rashes, constipation, UTI – the list goes on & on.  Know what I got?  A little heartburn, a little morning sickness, ok – quite a bit of constipation lol & the best pregnancy EVERRRRR!  Seriously – I LOVED every second of it!  It was even more magical that I ever imagined it would be!  The appointments, ultrasounds, little (& BIG) kicks, it was all so amazing & I was so glad to have such a beautiful miracle happening inside me – it left me speechless.

I ROCKED LABOR & DELIVERY!
Not all by myself or anything – I had an awesome support team of family & our hospital & OB were the VERY best & my wife rocked out being my foundation thru it all – but let’s face it – I was doing the heavy lifting!  haha!  and I had the birth I’d been dreaming of all along!  It was fast, textbook, successful, empowering & life-altering in every way!  I followed the lessons we learned in our birthing class & I DID IT!  I’d say that is one of my proudest moments of my entire life, if I’m being totally honest!

I WAS SUCCESSFUL AT BREASTFEEDING!
But it was NO easy road!  Both my wife & I were totally shocked at how HARD IT IS!  She was such a wonderful support to me in helping me get the baby positioned correctly, going to all the lactation consults, paying close attention to be able to remind me later how to do it, staying up late to help me move his tiny hands OUT OF THE WAY – haha!  Latch problems, mastitis, nipple shield, milk bleb, vasospasm, clogged ducts, abscess – we faced SO many challenges!!  In the end (somewhere around the 6 month mark) I think we FINALLY hit our stride & we’ve been rocking it ever since!  Besides delivery – I’d have to say I feel the most pride about this subject!  Breastfeeding has also led me to find my calling in life – to help other women conquer their breastfeeding challenges.  I am going to work my way towards becoming an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).  It’s going to be a LOOOOONG time before I actually achieve that goal BUT little by little I will get there!  Breastfeeding has changed my life in almost every way that a life can be changed & I am grateful for the struggle because it showed me that I really can do anything I put my mind to – I just have to believe in myself & surround myself with others who can believe in me when I lose faith ❤

I AM GREAT AT GIVING ADVICE WHEN FRIENDS ASK!
If I could have a nickle for every time someone told me I missed my calling for being a therapist I’d have a pretty decent savings account.  I think that I am good at keeping my friends best interest in mind while also telling them things that might be hard to hear.  But my best quality is being able to say those things in a way that someone will actually be open to hearing instead of just being offended & turning away.  People that ask me for advice once usually ask me for advice again & again & I am more than glad to help out in any way that I am able.  It makes me feel good that something I may have said to somebody can have helped to have a positive effect on their life in some small way.

I think we, as women, are taught to down-play or completely ignore our successes because we might be told that we are bragging or somehow putting down others but that’s just not true!  We SHOULD be proud of ourselves!  WE have come such a long way & we haven’t gotten here by women being quiet or keeping to themselves!

I’ll never have the guts to share this blog post on my own pages, but at least I have it here to remind myself that I am strong, smart, beautiful & worth recognition & hopefully I can carry that feeling thru my interactions with others in my life.

Celebrate yourself!

What have you done that you deserve to brag about??

Over-carenting…

Yep.  I just made up that word!
I was recently made aware that my wife & I are known for being “helicopter moms” or “over-parenting” – caring too much??  Is that even a problem?!
This is something I take a pretty decent amount of offense to.  The quote that really gets my panties in a twist was “you need to let that boy go”.  He’s 1… where should he go?!
I will NEVER be caught apologizing for ‘over-parenting’ or as I like to call it “being involved”.  Our son is not even old enough to communicate verbally!  It is literally my JOB to speak FOR him, ensure that his needs are met & if I cannot be there to meet those needs you better be damn sure I’m going to make sure his needs are met with the consistency that my wife & I feel are most appropriate for him.  I will never settle for “he was fine (aka: not broken, bruised or crying) when I picked him up – so everything must have gone well”.  #sorrynotsorry
If our son were 16 & I did his homework for him, told his teachers to never discipline him & never let him go hang out with any of his friends – fine – accuse me of ‘over-parenting’ but I seriously doubt that in the last 12 months I could have done anything to stunt his development in any possible way.
Consider this:  could it be that in the last few decades we have figured out that things we allowed children to do years ago have been found to be quite unsafe & that we have decided not to let these things continue being “normal” for our son??
“I rode in the back of a pickup truck (or insert any other 80’s antic-dote here) & I turned out fine!” guess what?? The kids that didn’t turn out fine… they’re not here to say that – so your argument is totally invalid.

ugh – I’m just ranting – I hate it when I do that – I was attempting to come to a super valid conclusion by writing this out but #icanteven right now lol

It’s never just sunscreen

Parenting decisions have been made 1000x’s more difficult because of one terrible, horrible, no good, very AMAZING website:  Amazon!

Yesterday our son’s school sent out a letter asking parents to send sunscreen since the weather is getting nicer & there will be a lot more outside play time!  Ok!  No problem!  I’ll just jump on Amazon, order it & move on to the next ‘to-do’ item in under a minute!

NO!

I quickly typed in “toddler sunscreen” on my Amazon search & had my trigger-finger ready to click “purchase with 1 click” as soon as I saw the first thing that came up because – how many could there be?  How hard could this be?

WOW!

SO MANY OPTIONS!

Of course we all want the most ‘natural/organic/safe’ options – is there such a thing in SUNSCREEN as organic?  YEP!

But what’s the difference?

I HAVE NO IDEA!

Let me just see which one has the best customer reviews – surly other parents are much wiser than I & will know which one to choose!  Let me see what they ALL have to say because what if one person says they didn’t like this brand?  Why?  What happened?  Did your child end up in the ER?  I MUST KNOW EVERY DETAIL of your plight so that I can spare my son the trauma of a sunscreen emergency!

Cream or spray?

What if he eats the cream off of his hands?  Should I even put it on his hands?  I mean, I don’t want his adorable little hands to get burned by the sun while he simply enjoys the happiest days of his toddler-hood!  He would never forgive me!

Will the spray scare him tho?  I don’t want to frighten him & emotionally scar him & have him living a life of sunscreen phobia while I’m trying to preserve his soft baby skin from the sun’s rays of doom!

Let’s see what the parent-pros have to say about this!

Customer Reviews [click]

1 hour later – I have no CLUE what I’m supposed to get!

However I am now an expert on everyone else’s opinion of every single brand of sunscreen available on the market!

It’s like his school is just playing a mean joke on me!  Don’t they know I don’t know anything about sunscreen – or at least I didn’t 2 PowerPoints, 3 spreadsheets & 45 minutes ago… and I haven’t even reviewed the ‘answered questions’ yet!  I think I’m just going to have the take the rest of the day off of work so I can give this decision the attention it truly deserves.

Never mind – I’m just going to send a note that says “My son is a vampire – please do not take him outside.  Thanks, Bella”

The breastfeeding whisper

I was having a conversation with a few coworkers last week (we all have kids around the same age – a year old, give or take) about life with a toddler & all of our proud parent moments.  It was also nice to talk to another bed-sharing family!  Then the conversation went on to talking about if were were going to work on transitioning to a crib or toddler bed anytime soon.  Our family is still pretty set on being undecided & just waiting to see which arrangement gets us all the most sleep HAHA!  It was then that my coworker said something that really struck me as odd.  It wasn’t WHAT he said but rather HOW he said it.  He looked around the room, leaned forward & said “Well, with my wife still breastfeeding it’s easier on her for our son to be in the bed with us.”  OK – while that is not a strange sentence in itself – he whispered the word “breastfeeding” & he even looked around before he said it to make sure nobody was around that might hear him.

WHY?!

He didn’t care one bit about speaking in a normal tone about bed-sharing so that clearly wasn’t the reason for the lean in & whisper.  I’m also sure it wasn’t because he was concerned that anyone would be offended by the fact that his wife is nursing a 15 month old (tho that can carry a bit of a stigma in our culture) because he didn’t even say anything about his son’s age.  He specifically whispered the word “breastfeeding”.

If this was the first time I’d ever heard someone say “breastfeeding” in a hushed tone I might not have given it a second thought but the more I thought about it the more I realized I have heard that word whispered more times than I can count!  Why are so many people whispering??
Is it a secret that your wife is giving your baby the best possible nutrition that could ever be provided?
Is it shameful that a woman is using her breasts for their intended purpose?
Are you worried that someone might even overhear you talking about the fact that your wife HAS breasts??

If his 15 month old son was bed-sharing but still waking up in the night for other reasons I seriously doubt the conversation would have gone this way:
(looks around the room… leans in… hushed tone) “well, with our son still waking up for a bottle at night it’s just easier to have him in the bed with us”

or even another option:
(looks around the room… leans in… hushed tone) “well, with our son still waking up for a pacifier at night it’s just easier to have him in the bed with us”

NEVER!

I don’t even feel this is a situation where it had anything to do with the gender of the speaker because I have even heard other women say “breastfeeding” in a hushed tone!  THIS IS CRAZY!  How did this come to be?!

I’m going to go ahead and say this is totally unacceptable!

We should NOT be whispering about FEEDING our children!  We don’t even whisper about our children’s BOWEL MOVEMENTS!  “oh my goodness!  He had a total BLOWOUT this morning!”.  Why would we find it OK to talk so freely about POOP but not EATING?!

Ugh!  This needs to change!

Lessons

A letter to my son:

I cannot believe you are almost a year old!  This has been the most magical year of my entire life!  Even tho you have only been here for a short while it already impossible for me to imagine my life without you in it.  You have taught me so much & while I will never be able to explain just how much you have changed my life, I wanted to take the time to thank you for some of the lessons you have taught me.

  1. Smile at strangers, it will brighten anyone’s day
  2. Some of the best communication involves no words at all
  3. You should let people know when they’ve made you mad – but don’t stay mad because it will ruin all the fun
  4. When you’re learning something new always give 100% effort otherwise you will never really know if you’re good at it
  5. When trying a new food just go ahead & take a big bite!  If you don’t like it – just spit it right back out HAHAHA!
  6. There is no wrong time to break out in a silly song & dance together – who cares if anyone is watching
  7. People will make assumptions about you no matter what you look like but that doesn’t define you in any way
  8. Always be open to learning something new & get excited about it
  9. Greet the day with an open heart & mind
  10. Snuggle – always make time to snuggle
  11. Books truly come to life when you read them together
  12. If something makes you happy – let the world know you’re happy!
  13. If you’re struggling with something let someone know so they can help you overcome your obstacle – there is no shame in asking for help
  14. Don’t compare yourself to others – you will grow & learn exactly the way you’re supposed to in your own perfect time
  15. Just because something may be difficult at first doesn’t mean you should give up
  16. If you are sad or if something hurts you – cry – don’t worry if anyone else sees you – experiencing that emotion is nothing to be ashamed of
  17. It’s not a terrible idea to give someone a good, hard look before deciding if you want to befriend them
  18. Be confident with your body!  It’s an amazing gift!
  19. If you’re sorry for your actions – the best apology is a heartfelt hug
  20. If you’re having a bad day – take a nap – it can fix a lot of things

Such a short list to sum up such an amazing adventure!  You make the world more beautiful just by be being in it.  I love you with all my heart & I am blessed beyond measure that I get to be your Mommy!

 

The Thief

My wife’s mother passed away only 5 months before we met.  I was so close to getting to meet her.  Almost.  We just missed each other.

I think this is part of the reason my wife fell for me.  I was new.  I didn’t know her mom.  I didn’t remind her of pain.  I could start a new chapter for her without even trying.  She needed that.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think she would’ve just settled on the first person that showed up after her mom’s passing.  We have tons in common & the things we differ on is what keeps us both in balance.  I think we are a great match!  She is a beautiful person inside & out!  I am blessed to have her in my life & forever grateful that she chose me to share this life with!
But I have a feeling of guilt that I can’t bring myself to tell her.

I don’t really care much for her mom – to put it mildly.  This woman I never met.  That’s pretty awful – I know.  I feel sick to my stomach even saying.  Actually I can’t say it out-loud.  I feel disgusting enough just typing it.
We’ve all heard the mother-in-law jokes about how they are over-bearing, butt-in-ski, controlling & all the other things are somehow acceptable to say about mother-in-laws but you never hear anything about father-in-laws because – sexism.  But I digress…

Please don’t misunderstand me – I have an indescribable amount of respect for her!  Working mother of 4 – basically doing it all on her own!  I would wither under those circumstances, but she somehow managed to balance it all!  I could study at her feet!  She made her kids, co-workers, family & friends ALL feel personally loved BY HER!  I can hardly find the time to give anyone besides my 11 month old a second of my time!  Let alone have it come across as even remotely genuine.  I’m failing hard in that department – like – hard!  But somehow she really did it all!  Above & beyond!  Every kid had their perfect birthday every single year with a homemade cake to match the theme!  Piles of presents under the tree with every kid’s hands, hearts & bellies full by 9am on Christmas morning.  She was a phenomenal woman – from what I have been told.

So why am I hatin’?

Jealousy?  You know, the way women do – they hate on the mom that looks like she has it all together because she makes it look so effortless while the rest of us are wearing the same pair of underwear 4 days in a row because that was the last time we showered & our hair tie is lost somewhere in the knot of hair on top of our heads but we don’t reach up to find it because then everyone will see our caveman armpit hair.  No I’m not jealous of her for any of those reasons – tho they may or may not all be true for me at this moment in time.

I am actually quite angry with her.  That word is a very simple way to put it.
Let’s see…. Anger folded in with a healthy dose of bitterness & resentment.  Put a middle finger on top where the candle should be.  That should sum it up pretty well.

WHY?!  What the heck did this amazing woman you NEVER met, who bore your wonderful wife & raised her into an amazing human being do TO YOU?!

Well, you see all those fun & wonderful things I mentioned before – the parties, gifts, happiness… she built a world where none of these things existed without her.  She was THE bringer of joy, the maker of happiness, the builder of wonders.  Only her.  The impression was that without her MAKING the days good they could not be good days.  Any other rubbish that may come along would be deflected by her – she protected her children from all the hurt & hard times she could & she was very good at that, too!  Too good.  Once she was gone – no joy could be made.  No happiness could be shared.  Life lost all of its wonder.
I understand her.  When I see my son’s eyes light up because I have done something he likes – WOW!  There REALLY is no better feeling on Earth.  Honesly.  It’s like a drug!  I want to make him smile & laugh & never face hard times!  I think that is your instinct as a parent.

I read a quote once that said something like “The job of a parent is to make your children so strong that they don’t need you.  The most painful part is being successful.” WOW!  Talk about a truth-bomb!

She loved that her children needed her & I get it!  She wore motherhood like the dress that was custom-made just for her – it fit perfectly & she never wanted to take that dress off because it made her feel like Cinderella.  Meanwhile I’m looking like a homeless person flailing & stumbling thru motherhood like someone has cut off my feet & placed me directly on hot coals.

Let me put this simply.
She stole from me.
She kept all the best parts for herself with nothing left to share (or at least no ability to know how to share it or make some happiness for yourself).  She has stolen romantic dinners, care-free weekends, laughs, smiles, strength, open-conversations, joy, light, love, days, weeks, months, years of happiness & the biggest hit: hope.
She kept all of the hope that life could be beautiful again.  Granted (& respectfully), never exactly the same, but still something to fully delight in without inhibitions or feelings of hesitation & guilt.

It pains me so deeply to see my wife – frozen & physically AFRAID to take a step forward.  To be the strong woman that she can be.  To be the mother that I know she wants to be.  I watch her.  She punishes herself for wanting to be brave.

It’s easy to get mad at her when she chooses her mom over our son & me.  Not in such clear ways – but I see it.
Sometimes I think she misses her mom so much & wants to be with her so badly that she would even trade us for a moment of time with her mom.
Sometimes I think she hopes it happens.
Sometimes I want to tell her that I don’t know if I will ever be able to forgive her if she dies before me by choice.

She wants to be mad at her mom, too.  She’s almost there.  But she’s frozen in fear.  Afraid that showing some strength & independence would mean punishment.  So, until she’s ready – I will be mad enough for the both of us.  For our family, for all of the things that we have had stolen from us.  Joy, laughter, happiness, love, strength & hope.

I take that back – I will not allow my hope to be stolen.  That belongs to me & not a single person living or dead will take that from me.  Even if that’s all I’m left with.

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